Being green is very fashionable these days. At least, that has to be the conclusion drawn from the fact that so many celebrities are keen to promote and endorse environmentally friendly lifestyles and campaigns.
Celebs getting involved with environmental causes is far from a new phenomenon, however. Brigitte Bardot was one of the biggest stars in the world in the 1950s and 1960s, famed for being one of the most beautiful women of her generation, and so famous that she was often only referred to by her initials, BB. In 1973, at the age of just 39, she announced her retirement from acting and modeling, and instead has devoted the rest of her life to animal welfare causes.
Today’s green celebrities have a long way to go before they can match the commitment of Brigitte Bardot, but at least some of the biggest names in movies, music and television are doing their bit foe the environment by choosing to drive hybrid vehicles, electric cars or even biofuel motors, all of which are much better for Mother Earth than the old gas or diesel-powered internal combustion engine.
For every environment-loving Hollywood actor out there, however, there is also another famous face who refuses to move with the times, still driving gas guzzling SUVs. They may be considered a status symbol, but is looking cool really worth the damage they are doing to the environment?
18 Justin Bieber - Fisker Karma
Teen heart-throb Justin Bieber is an unlikely green activist; although in his case, the fact that he owns an electric vehicle is probably down to the fact that the Fisker Karma is one of the more sought-after and exclusive sports cars than the fact that it is environmentally friendly. The singer was given the car, which costs over $100,000, as an 18th birthday gift from fellow music star Usher, and immediately went out and got the car a chrome wrap and underbody LED lights– because an ordinary Fisker Karma just isn’t eye catching enough, right?
If the cops had spotted young Justin out and about at night, then he might have been in trouble, as the State of California doesn’t allow colored lights on the dashboard or body of vehicles.
Still, even if the law wouldn’t have approved of Bieber’s new wheels, at least those who are worried about the environment would have to admit that even an electric car with a tacky upgrade is better than some of the other cars in the singer’s collection, including a Ferrari F340, a 997 Porsche Turbo and a Lamborghini Aventador. While most young men had posters of these cars on their bedroom walls, Bieber actually gets to drive them all!
17 Robert Pattinson - Dodge Durango
Twilight actor Robert Pattinson may hail from the UK, but he has very much embraced the best of the US automotive industry since he moved to the States. His co-star in the bewilderingly popular vampire movies, Kristen Stewart, has gone the other way, choosing to drive a very British Mini Cooper! Pattinson, or RPatz as he is known to his fans, drives a Dodge Durango around Los Angeles, where he now lives; a Dodge Durango that only gets around 17 miles to the gallon on those journeys around the Hollywood Hills.
The Dodge Durango SUV isn’t the only vehicle in Pattinson’s collection; he also owns a classic 1963 Chevrolet Nova, which is hardly an ideal car for protecting the environment either.
It’s clear that style is far more important than scruples to the celebrities on this second list. It’s difficult to know whether famous faces like Robert Pattinson simply didn’t consider the environmental consequences of their motoring decisions or whether they knew what they were doing and just didn’t care – or even whether those celebs who do drive environmentally friendly cars do so because they genuinely care about Mother Earth or simply because they want to look good to their fans…
16 Paul McCartney - Lexus LS600h
Former Beatle Sir Paul McCartney is another Brit who has embraced green motoring. Not much of a surprise, given the fact the he has been a vegetarian for decades, and has been a passionate advocate for the environment and animal rights throughout his later career. When Lennon and McCartney wrote the Beatles hit Drive My Car, however, it was unlikely that Sir Paul was imagining being behind the wheel of the luxury Lexus LS600h.
The singer was actually given the $84,000 car as a gift from Lexus, as thank you for the work he did to promote their hybrid vehicles, and the company even provided sponsorship for his 2005 tour. Unfortunately, the generous gift didn’t go down quite as well as Lexus had hoped; Sir Paul was apparently furious when he found out that the vehicle had been flown 7,000 miles from Japan to the UK, creating a carbon footprint 100 times bigger than if the car had been transported by sea instead. However, he wasn’t angry enough to refuse the gift altogether, and still uses his Lexus limo to get around in the UK, and he continues to work to support environmental causes, regardless of whether they reward him with expensive luxury cars!
15 Khloe Kardashian – Bentley Continental
Kim and Kylie are not the only Kardashian-Jenner sisters who have chosen to drive a gas guzzling car. Khloe Kardashian also drives a less than environmentally friendly vehicle, though unlike the other celebs on the list, hers is not an SUV, but is instead a very luxurious Bentley Continental convertible. This classic British motor has been increasing in popularity on this side of the Atlantic thanks to its timelessly elegant styling, reliable performance, and some savvy marketing which has brought the brand to the attention of celebs like Khloe Kardashian, Tyrese Gibson and Cindy Crawford.
The Bentley Continental may look fantastic, but it was first built in the 1950s, at a time when no-one had even heard of climate change or carbon footprint; creating an environmentally friendly vehicle was not a priority for Bentley then, and it appears that this is still the case today – although the company is finally developing a hybrid version of their classic Continental which is due to be launched in 2018. Perhaps all those celebs who seem to love the styling and engineering of the Bentley Continental so much will decide to exchange their old-fashioned gas guzzling versions for the greener hybrid models when they eventually become available?
14 Leonardo DiCaprio - Fisker Karma
If any modern celebrity comes close to Brigitte Bardot’s devotion to environmental causes, it is actor Leonard DiCaprio. While Leo is far from giving up his acting career – after all, he finally got his hands on that longed-for Oscar statue in 2016 – he is well known for his support of environmental issues and campaigns, setting up his own foundation to support conservation initiatives and to try and tackle climate change – not easy with a climate change denier in the White House!
More importantly, DiCaprio puts his money where his mouth is, driving environmentally friendly cars rather than opting for the SUVs more commonly seen in the Hollywood Hills.
For years, Leo was regularly seen driving his Toyota Prius, the best-loved and best-selling hybrid car in the US, but in recent years he has upgraded his wheels without sacrificing his love for Mother Earth. While he also owns an electric Fisker Karma (and loved the company so much that he invested some of his own money) his pride and joy is his Tesla Roadster, another electric car, but one that will even get speed freaks excited. As well as being able to travel 250 miles on a single charge, the Tesla Roadster can accelerate from 0 to 60mph in just 3.7 seconds.
13 Arnold Schwarzenegger – Hummer
When you have made your name playing action heroes (or villains) like Conan the Barbarian and The Terminator, then you kind of have to choose a car that matches your macho image. Arnold Schwarzenegger lived up to all the stereotypes about muscle-bound Hollywood actors when he bought himself a bright yellow Hummer. In fact, the eye-catching yellow utility vehicle was only one of Schwarzenegger’s collection of Hummer trucks and SUVs, probably earning him the unwanted title of the most polluting Hollywood celebrity in the early 21st century.
The Hummer H1, modeled on the US military Humvee armored car, only gets about 10 miles to the gallon; so not only are they bad for the environment, but they are very bad for your wallet too – not that Arnie has to worry about that sort of thing. While his Hummer collection rightly earns him a spot in the list of celebs who drive gas guzzlers, Arnie has seen the error of his ways, converting one of his Hummers to run on hydrogen when he was Governor of California, and more recently becoming involved with Kriesel Electric’s project to design and build an all-electric Hummer, the prototype of which was launched in 2017.
12 Cameron Diaz – Toyota Prius
Cameron Diaz has been friends with her Gangs of New York co-star Leonard DiCaprio for years, and it seems that his environmental crusading has also had a positive impact on Diaz’s own driving choices. Diaz has been a Toyota Prius fan for a long time, and is always keen to extol the virtues of the hybrid car when given the opportunity. It was on British motoring show Top Gear that Diaz first revealed she drove a Prius, while during an appearance on the Jay Leno show, the actress was keen to boast about the amazing efficiency of her new favorite vehicle, which gets an impressive 53 miles per gallon.
The Toyota Prius has become a popular car among celebs who want to show off their green credentials; fellow actors Natalie Portman, Matt Damon, Harrison Ford and Jennifer Aniston are all regularly seen behind the wheels of their Prius’. And the car is also proving a hit with regular American drivers too, becoming the best-selling hybrid vehicle in the US and selling over 1.6 million vehicles between its launch in April 2000 and May 2016. Toyota is proving the be the king of hybrids, with over 10 million sales of its 33 different hybrid models as of February 2017.
11 Nicole Scherzinger - Mercedes GL350 Bluetec
Former Pussycat Doll Nicole Scherzinger has made a fortune from her musical ability, but at least part of her success is down to the way she looks and her sense of style. When the world’s paparazzi is always on hand to catch you having a bad hair day, it is easy to understand why celebs like Scherzy plump for tough SUVs to get them safely from A to B. It’s easier to avoid photographers in a Mercedes GL350 Bluetec with tinted windows than it is in an environmentally friendly Nissan Leaf. Plus, you need plenty of space for your bodyguards – or your boyfriend’s ego (if her on-again, off-again beau Lewis Hamilton, of Formula One fame, would ride in anything as mundane as a Mercedes GL 350 Bluetec).
At least Nicole is showing a little brand loyalty – Lewis drives for the Mercedes team in Grand Prix races – even if the GL350 Bluetec comes in near the back of the field when it comes to the environment. The bulky SUV only gets 19 miles to the gallon when you’re driving in the city, while its performance of the highway is only slightly better, at 26 miles to the gallon. Although even that is pretty impressive compared to the figures from Formula One cars, which get just 3 miles per gallon!
10 Alyssa Milano - Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt
Alyssa Milano made her name in the 1980s and 1990s, appearing in the hugely successful sitcom Who’s the Boss? with Tony Danza. Although her public profile may have dipped since her childhood successes, Milano is still a recognizable figure in the US, as much for her activism and campaigning as for her acting these days.
She is a vegetarian, and has taken part in advertising campaigns for PETA, as well as being a high profile AIDS campaigner in the 1980s when she befriended Ryan White, an Indiana schoolboy who was banned from attending school after he contracted HIV through a blood transfusion.
Milano’s benevolent attitude obviously remains to this day, as the actress doesn’t drive just one electric car, but two; a Nissan Leaf and a Chevy Volt. Reportedly, when she went to buy an electric car in 2011, in order to reduce her own carbon footprint, Milano was simply unable to choose between the two vehicles, and so decided that she would simply buy both of them! It’s easy to see why Milano found it so difficult to choose between the Nissan Leaf, a cut compact, and the Chevrolet Volt, a roomier sedan. Unfortunately for us mortals, buying two cars at the dealership is rarely an option.
9 Dwight Howard - Conquest Knight XV
Sports stars have a bit of a reputation when it comes to their vehicles. These young men, who suddenly find themselves with the financial means to buy any car they want, tend to go way over the top when they get to the dealership, always going for the biggest, most powerful vehicle they can find – and then spending another small fortune modifying it to make it even more imposing, or to put their own stamp on its appearance.
Baseball star Robinson Cano bought himself a gold Ferrari; boxer Floyd Mayweather bought one of just two Koenigsegg CCXR Trevitas, at a cost of $4.8 million; and Dwight Howard outdid both of these by splashing out $800,000 on the ridiculously huge Conquest Knight XV.
Inspired by military vehicles like the Humvee, the Conquest Knight XV looks more like a tank than an SUV; it weights almost nine tonnes, stands over 6 and a half feet in height and is wider than a Lamborghini Aventador. Quite why Howard needed a road-legal tank in which to drive around has never been explained – and getting parked must have been a nightmare – but who cares about the environment so long as an overpaid baller gets to look cool on the way to the game?
8 Jay Leno - Chevy Volt
Chat show host Jay Leno has always had a bit of a reputation as a fan of American muscle cars, which aren’t exactly known for their environmentally friendly credentials. His extensive car collection includes a 1970 Dodge Challenger, a 1963 Jaguar E-Type Coupe and a 1986 Lamborghini Countach, which Leno uses as his every drive, and which has 70,000 miles on the clock. So what is Leno doing in the list of celebrities who drive green, and not the list of celebrities who drive gas guzzlers? Well, because he has made some recent additions to his collection, including a stunning 2014 McLaren P1, one of only 375 models of the hybrid hypercar ever built and the first one to arrive in the US.
Given that this isn’t the kind of car you take out for a spin very often, Leno has also invested in a hybrid car that is a little more accessible, although probably not as much fun to drive; a Chevrolet Volt. He took delivery of his Chevy Volt in 2010, and it came with a full tank of gas. One year later, Leno had done 11,000 miles in his Volt without having to once fill up the tank. In fact, in 12 months and 11,000 miles, he had used less than half a tank of gas, powering the rest of his journeys entirely on greener electricity.
7 Victoria Beckham – Range Rover Evoque
As it wasn’t bad enough that Mr Beckham was driving a gas guzzling polluter when he and his family were living in LA, it turns out that Mrs Beckham has also chosen to drive a less than environmentally friendly set of wheels; the Range Rover Evoque. Given her reputation as one of the most stylish women in the world, it is understandable that Victoria Beckham would choose her car based on what it looks like (and whether it matches her outfit) rather than worrying about something silly like fuel economy or emissions.
Victoria, known as Posh Spice when she was a member of pop group the Spice Girls, actually helped to design the exteriors and interiors of the limited edition Range Rover Evoques, of which only 200 were ever made, selling for $110,000 when new. While Victoria may have put her personal spin on the matte grey finish, the tanned leather seats and the black alloys with rose gold detailing, she had no say over the engineering of the limited edition Evoque, which was just as gas guzzling as the standard model. The Evoque gets just 27 miles to the gallon in the city, and as little as 41 mpg on the highway.
6 Paris Hilton - Cadillac Escalade
Given her reputation for self-centered behavior, it may come as a surprise to learn that socialite, it-girl and TV personality Paris Hilton drives a hybrid car. She was pictured behind the wheel of a Cadillac Escalade hybrid after switching her old gas guzzling SUVs for a more environmentally friendly version. The Escalade is actually the ideal vehicle for celebs who want to look the part, but who also want to limit their carbo footprint.
After all, in its original gas-powered form, the Cadillac Escalade is one of the best-selling SUVs, with just enough luxurious features to ensure it is a sought-after vehicle in Hollywood.
The hybrid version of the Escalade looks just as good, and though you may lose a little on performance (and have to remember to plug it in every night when you get home) it makes very little difference for driving around the city streets of LA and its more exclusive suburbs. The understated black Cadillac Escalade was a huge change from Paris’ previous car acquisitions; only a few months before she was photographed driving her hybrid, she had bought herself a pink Bentley Continental, which she had customized by the team from MTV’s Pimp My Ride.
5 David Beckham - Jeep Wrangler
Another sports star who has gone for style over taking care of the environment is soccer star David Beckham. In his native UK, soccer players are just like US sports stars; they often get paid too much money only to end up buying ludicrously expensive cars that they couldn’t possibly need. Bentleys are actually a common sight in soccer ground car parks around the UK, so perhaps it is actually something of a blessing that Becks only went and bought himself a Jeep Wrangler.
Beckham picked up his $40,000 Jeep Wrangler when he was playing for LA Galaxy in the MLS, and was often photographed by the paparazzi cruising around Los Angeles with the top down, enjoying the California sunshine.
Of course, as we all know, Los Angeles is one of the most polluted cities in the US, thanks in no small part to its vast network of highways, and its residents’ love of gas guzzling SUVs and sports cars. Beckham’s Jeep Wrangler may only have been one car among hundreds of thousands of vehicles, but its poor miles per gallon figures (15 mpg in the city, and 19 mpg on the highway) would have only added to the city’s pollution problems.
4 Woody Harrelson - VW Beetle Biodiesel
Another celebrity with a green reputation, actor Woody Harrelson drives what could possibly be described as the most hippy car ever created. The VW Beetle was a vehicle that was embraced by the earth-loving original hippies of the 1960s and 1970s (long before anyone cared about climate change and carbon footprints) but Woody uses biodiesel to fuel his car, rather than standard polluting diesel. Any diesel car can actually run on biodiesel, which is made from vegetable and animal oil and is far less polluting than standard fuels.
The use of biodiesel is increasing across the US, and in the UK the government has ruled that all diesel sold at its pumps must be a minimum of 5% biodiesel. There are four different types of biodiesel fuel available in America; B2, which is 2% biodiesel and 98% regular fuel; B5, which is the 5/95% mix sold in the UK; a 20% biodiesel and 80% diesel fuel labelled B20; and finally B100, fuel which is made from 100% biodiesel. It is this last option which Cheers star Harrelson uses in his VW Beetle – when he does actually drive it. He spends much of his time living in Hawaii, and prefers to get around the island on his bicycle.
3 Prince Charles - Aston Martin DB5 Bioethanol
If you think it’s impressive that a US President has embraced environmentally friendly motoring, then you’ll be blown away by the news that a member of the British Royal family is also a fan of green vehicles. Actually, if you know anything about Prince Charles, Queen Elizabeth’s oldest son and heir to the British throne, it won’t come as much of a surprise that one of his cars is an Aston Martin DB5 that is powered by bioethanol.
Unlike biodiesel, which can be used in ordinary diesel cars, vehicles have to be specially built or adapted in order to run on bioethanol, a fuel that is made from the sugar fermentation process.
Not only do bioethanol cars produce less carbon dioxide pollution, but the crops which are needed in bioethanol production – wheat, maize and corn among others – actually help to absorb what little carbon dioxide is produced. Prince Charles’ Aston Martin is actually powered by bioethanol made from surplus plants at an English vineyard; yes, the heir to the British throne drives a car that runs on wine. He initially received the classic car as a 21st birthday gift from the Queen, and later had it converted to run on more environmentally friendly fuels.
2 Kim Kardashian- Mercedes-Benz G Wagen
If you’re going to buy a gas guzzling SUV, then you might as well buy a real classic. The Mercedes-Benz G Wagen was first built for the German military all the way back in the early 1970s – a history which is very evident in the G Wagen’s boxy jeep-like styling, but it has only been available on the US market since 2002, at which point it started to become one of the most popular luxury SUVs – and one that has proven particularly popular with celebrities.
Although given the G Wagen’s $200,000 price tag, it is a little out of the financial reach of most ordinary families anyway!
Famous owners include royalty, in the shape of the always-elegant Queen Rania of Jordan, singer Hilary Duff and Kim Kardashian and her step-sister Kylie Jenner, whose customized model features velvet upholstery and personalized hubcaps with a “K” emblem. Thanks to the Kardashian family’s weird naming traditions, at least she can pass it onto one of her sisters if she ever gets tired of it – or if she decides to start driving a more environmentally friendly vehicle than the G Wagen, which gets just 17 miles to the gallon in the city and 25 miles per gallon on the highway.
1 Shaquille O'Neal - F650 Super Truck XUV
However, even Dwight Howard’s wannabe tank isn’t the most ridiculous gas guzzling vehicle owned by a super-rich player from the NBA. That dubious honour goes to the great Shaquille O’Neal, who bought himself a Ford F650 Super Truck XUV (which stands for Xtreme Utility Vehicle), and then had it modified to suit both his 7-foot frame and his questionable taste. For an over-the-top super truck, the Ford F650 Super Truck isn’t actually that expensive – the basic models start at about $64,000 – but Shaq’s version cost him nearer $125,000 because of all the modifications and extras he wanted on his vehicle.
Getting just 13 miles to the gallon, the Ford F650 Super Truck is never going to win any awards for protecting the environment, but it has to be said that Shaq’s decision to get a Terminator-themed paint job isn’t going to win any prizes in the design department either. However, a guy of Shaq’s size is simply never going to be able to fit comfortably in normal people cars, so perhaps we can excuse him for buying an oversize gas guzzler on medical grounds? What we can’t forgive him for is taking a pretty awesome Ford truck and giving it a ridiculous makeover.
Sources: nationalgeographic.com, biodiesel.org, autoevolution.com, jalopnik.com